Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Keele Diary #2

First off, let me tell you something: Men were not meant to take baths.

I walked into my flat for the first time the other day and all looked fine with one exception -- no shower nozzle. Just a plain old bathtub. So for the last two mornings I have had two lines from Seinfeld running through my head. The first has been Kramer dismissing the idea of taking baths when he is having shower head issues as "lying in a tepid pool of his own filth." The second is when Kramer offers Jerry the chance to take a soak in the hot tob Kramer has installed in his apartment. Jerry demurs, referring to Kramer's hot tub as a "bacteria frappe." We are working on trying to rig up some sort of shower nozzle. Let's hope.

So I am settling in. I can just about make a beeline from my flat to my office in the labyrinthine Chancellor's Building several hundred meters away without any missteps. I am participating on a roundtable today on President Obama's first hundred days and so have been working on that, putting in some serious writing time yesterday and this morning. I am convinced that I will have the most productive month of my life if the pace of the first two days is indicative of anything.

I was invited to attend an undergraduate seminar on Southern history this morning, which enabled me to meet some of the students and to partake in the teaching process, something that is sadly rare in these kind of fellowship environments. And yesterday evening I attended a history department colloquium on the state of history at Keele past, present and future in which many of the lamentations sounded familiar and could be echoed by professors at the bulk of institutions in the English-speaking (and I suspect beyond) world. (Think: silly administrators, uncommitted students, a sense that the public does not get or appreciate history, declining funding, an obsession with assessments, shifting goal posts of expectations, the role of technology for good but also for ill, and so forth.)

It's been rainy and damp in the North Midlands, but there are vague rumors that the sun is supposed to re-emerge. Apparently the weather was glorious until my arrival. I'll beg off drawing any major conclusions from that and will hope that the coincidence will be revealed by a few sunny days to come.


Jeremy said...

I am following your blog intently Dr. Catsam. I hope everything goes well. And I loved the allusion to Seinfeld -- one of the greatest shows in the history of television!

Anonymous said...


dcat said...

Thanks to both of you for following me along my journey!